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Somewhat yes this is possible but I don't like the term "avoid taxes," it sounds somewhat illegal. I think a better term would be tax strategy....
Basically you can gift up to 14,000 of property to you son tax free. If you are married then you spouse can also gift up to 14,000.
The stock options would be transferred at the fair market value "FMV" not your original basis.
Anything in excess of 14,000 would be subject to the gift tax. BUT, you can elect to have the gift apply to your annual lifetime annual exclusion which is currectly set at 5.25M and the gift tax would not apply but you would still need to file a gift tax return Form 706 to elect to use your exclusion.
Basically estate and gift taxes go hand in hand. You are allowed a 5.25M FMV of assets "liftetime exclusion" at time of death before the estate tax applies. If you have gifted during the year and applied those gifts against your exclusion the 5.25M then your estate would only be shielded by 5.25M less the amounts gifted.
Alternatively, if you could manage to transfer the options to your son and then have him immediately liquidate the positions to cash and transfer the proceeds to the college. Gift taxes do not apply to payments made for someone's educational tuition. This might be somewhat tricky though as the IRS may view the transfer of the options before sale as a "gift" and not a "payment to an educational institution." I think the best thing to do here is to document in writing with a notary signature the intent of all the transactions. Then it would be hard for the IRS to make a position against you regarding the intent of the funds.
See some links here regarding the gift tax - http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Frequently-Asked-Questions-on-Gift-Taxes#8
I don't think you would need a CPA or someone to assist you but if we are talking about an amount over 14K it might be worthwhile get a formal opinion on the transaction to ensure it is done correctly. It might cost you a couple of hundred bucks but at least your tax on the gift would be NIL.
I trust this provides the clarity you were looking for. If it does not please feel free to ask further questions.
Thanks. So basically if my cost basis is 10 and current FMV is 50. I pay income tax on 40? The advantage of the gift is that any further gain above 40 will be taxed at my son,s rate? Correct?
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